Monday, May 23, 2022

Seventh Most Beautiful State Capitol Building: Pierre, South Dakota

Fall 2015-16 UM Enrollment for U.S. by U.S. State
Fall 2015-16 UM Enrollment for U.S. by U.S. State

EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s no secret that the University of Mississippi has a diverse population of students from across the United States and around the world. In fact, there are students from every state in the nation, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico comprising the total of 20,827 (U.S. students) on the Oxford and regional campuses including UMMC, according to University of Mississippi Institutional Research. Mississippi holds the largest share (58.11 percent), but the remaining states share the other almost 42 percent. There is one Ole Miss student from South Dakota (0.01 percent).


Image by effreyAllen1975 as seen on Wikipedia
Image by effreyAllen1975 as seen on Wikipedia

The State Capitol building in Pierre, South Dakota ranks number 7 on our listing of The Ten Most Beautiful State Capitols following no. 10 Connecticut, no. 9 Iowa and no. 8 Alabama.

Constructed between 1905 and 1910 this magnificent structure rests on 20 acres. It was built for $1 million in an architectural style of Colonial Revival, Classical Revival and Renaissance. Similar features can be observed to the Montana State Capitol in Helena.

The floor in the Capitol building is made of terrazzo tile. It is believed that the floor was laid by 66 Italian artists who each placed their own mark by being given a blue stone to place in the floor. Only 55 of these tiles have been located with the remainder thought to be covered by walls, doors or carpeting.

From the first floor, a marble staircase leads upstairs. This Capitol building also features a First Lady Gown Collection of miniature replicas of the gowns worn by each First Lady to the state’s inaugural ball. On the second floor the marble staircase leads into a rotunda.

The dome of the rotunda is 96 feet high. The bottom ring was designed to resemble a string of ribbons joined together symbolizing the external nature of government. The interior of the dome is decorated with sixteen images of the Tree of Life. Also reflected are Acanthus leaves to represent wisdom and a Pasqueflower which is the state flower.

As to exterior memorials there are four on the grounds. The Fighting Stallions Memorial is a sculpture honoring eight South Dakota residents (including Governor George S. Mickelson) who perished in an airplane crash April 19, 1993. To honor SD veterans, the Flaming Fountain Memorial is a fountain with a perpetually burning natural gas flame. The Law Enforcement Officer Memorial pays tribute to fallen police officers while in the line of duty. And six bronze figures on a peninsula in the Capitol Lake comprise the World War II Memorial, each representing one of the branches of service in which SD residents served during the war.

A major renovation covering 22 years began in 1989 restoring much of the building and its decoration including the tile floor to its original appearance. Each of the tile workers making the repairs was given a heart shaped stone with which to mark the new floor similar to the original workers in the early 1900’s. In 2013 work commenced to restore the stained glass throughout the building with the $2.7 million project concluded in time for the state’s 125th anniversary celebration.

(Special credit to Wikipedia for the historical references.)


Steve Vassallo

Steve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at sovassallo@gmail.com or call him at 985-852-7745.

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